Media group Vivendi has agreed to pay $775 million to Liberty Media Corp. to end allegations it hid its financial difficulties to inflate its stock ahead of a deal to buy Liberty’s stake in USA Networks Inc., nearly four years after a jury awarded Liberty $847.4 million.
This agreement will lead Vivendi to record a reversal of provision of approximately €245 million in its 2016 accounts. Given that this provision has already been deducted for tax purposes, this reversal of provision will be taxed in 2016.
In January 2013, following a jury verdict in favour of Liberty Media, the District Court awarded Liberty Media €945 million in damages and pre-judgment interest, an amount provisioned in Vivendi’s accounts. An appeal and cross-appeal were subsequently filed by Vivendi and Liberty Media with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The cross-appeal of Liberty Media sought €584 million in additional pre-judgment interest and, if Liberty had prevailed on that issue, would have increased the award to €1.529 billion (approx. $1.729 billion).
As a result of the settlement, the letter of credit issued as a guarantee for the amounts awarded by the jury will be terminated and the related cash deposit will be returned to Vivendi.
The implementation of the foregoing transactions will have a positive net cash impact of approximately €270 million for Vivendi. Other terms of the settlement include an exchange of mutual releases from all claims relating to this matter, and the dismissal of all appeals and cross-appeals in the Second Circuit. The parties have notified the court of their settlement agreement.
In a Statement, Vivendi said the settlement should not be construed as a concession by Vivendi of the validity of any of Liberty Media’s claims, or as an admission of any wrongdoing by Vivendi. Rather, despite the jury’s verdict, Vivendi continues to maintain that it did not commit any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Vivendi said it is pleased to resolve this long-running dispute with Liberty Media on terms that Vivendi believes are in the interest of both the company and its shareholders